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Learning and Memory: From Brain to Behavior

This course is expected to run but has not yet been scheduled.

Course Description

The facts we learn as humans across our lifetime and our memories of personal experiences make each one of us unique. Consider, however, how a person’s sense of self would be affected if he or she were unable to form new memories. At a more basic level, how could animals survive if they were unable to learn from their experiences? This course will offer students the opportunity to explore neuroscience’s current understanding of learning and memory processes gained largely from both human and animal research.

Throughout the course, we will discuss how science is performed, how learning is measured, and how memory is studied. We will compare and contrast different types of learning and the multiple memory systems that are responsible for various types of memories; we will discuss some of the molecular mechanism thought to underlie these processes. Finally, we will discuss how disruptions to these mechanisms or insults to specific brain regions can result in learning and memory deficits.

What is most interesting and exciting about neuroscience is the unknown; therefore, we will also explore topics that are still not well understood in the field. The main objectives of this course are to: first, to explore the science of learning and memory, second, to describe and differentiate, at multiple levels, the bases of various learning and memory processes, and finally, to appreciate the importance and complexities of such processes.

By the end of the course, students will be able to:
• Describe and differentiate the various types of learning and memory and the brain regions that underlie these different processes.
• Express and evaluate their understanding of course materials through assignments and discussion.
• Describe how research in the field of learning and memory is performed.
• Discuss and evaluate empirical research in the field of learning and memory.
• Evaluate their own learning and understand how to improve their learning and memory in different settings.
• Have an appreciation for the complexity and adaptive nature of different memory processes.

There are no prerequisites for this class. There will be a thorough overview of the psychological basis of learning and memory and the foundations of behavior that will allow students from different backgrounds and disciplines to gain the necessary familiarity with basic psychology and neuroscience concepts.